New Delhi: Kolkata Knight Riders did a creditable job in the fourth season of the Indian Premier League (much better than what they had managed in the first three editions), but still they could not finish in the top three – ended up being fourth – and, thus lost a chance to qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 competition. But, come September 19, the purple and golden brigade will be all charged up to make amends and do what they couldn’t in the first place - qualify for the event.
Though the news that Gautam Gambhir was not fit for the upcoming contests would have come as a big blow to the aspirations of the team, KKR still have a few aces up their sleeve that can power them to the main event.
Jacques Kallis has been given the reigns of the side in the absence of Gambhir, and the South African all-rounder - who has proved his worth time and again at the international level - is capable of preparing the right recipe with coach Dave Whatmore for the upcoming challenges.
The team had suffered another blow when England batsman, Eoin Morgan, was ruled of the cash-rich event due to an injury. The presence of the 25-year-old would have assured more stability to the batting order.
But the unavailability of the Irishman could well prove to be a boon for Ryan ten Doeschate, the Netherlands international, who had got limited chances to show his skills so far.
Morgan’s injury will also give more exposure to hard-hitting batsmen Manoj Tiwary and swashbuckling Yusuf Pathan. Tiwary has been amongst the runs lately - he was the highest run-getter for India in the Emerging Players' series in Australia - while everyone is well aware of Pathan's six-hitting ability.
KKR's pace bowling looks a little thin as except Brett Lee and Laxmipathy Balaji, they don't have a quality seam bowler. And though young Jaidev Unadkat has shown some promise, especially under the guidance of Pakistan great and team's bowling coach Wasim Akram, he is a still a few steps away from absorbing the pressure of top-flight cricket.
A weak pace attack also makes the job of Kallis all the more important. He will not only have to give his side a good start but also have to shoulder the load of his side's bowling attack.
The team also hopes that Iqbal Abdulla will come good once again. The diminutive slow left-armer was the highest wicket-taker (16 wickets) for KKR in the 2011 season.
Rajat Bhatia will also play a big role in the middle overs with his military medium pace. The 31-year-old has been a consistent performer for his state side Delhi.
The coming matches will be a tough challenge for the outfit which had promised a lot but have delivered very little so far. And the occasion is perfectly set for KKR to prove their detractors wrong.